Mata Mata Turtle

Mata Mata Turtle
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  • Item #: MAMA


Scientific Name:  Chelus fimbriata

Identification:  Truly pre-historic in appearance, the mata mata's shell resembles a piece of bark, and its head resembles fallen leaves. The mata mata's plastron is reduced, narrowed, hingeless, shortened towards the front, and deeply notched at the rear with narrow bridges. The plastron and bridges are cream to yellow or brown. It has a large, triangular, flattened head characterized with many tubercles and flaps of skin, and a "horn" on its long and tubular snout.   Three barbels occur on the chin and four additional filamentous barbels at the upper jaw, which is neither hooked nor notched.
Range:  Tropical rivers, including the Amazon, Orinoco, Essequibo, and Oyapoque river systems of northern South America (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela). They are also found in Trinidad and Tobago.

Diet: The mata mata is carnivorous, feeding exclusively upon aquatic invertebrates and fish.

The mata mata, mata-mata, or matamata is the only extant species in the genus Chelus.  Mata matas are not active hunters, so, like the alligator snapping turtle, they need less space than a large, active species.  The snorkel-like snout allows this turtle to lie fully submerged while breathing, with the least possible disturbance of the water surface.  While these turtles have poor vision, they do have excellent tactile and auditory senses. The complex folds of skin on their bodies hold sensory nerves that help to detect motion, and there is a well developed tympanum on both sides of the head. As well, the neck is innervated and is sensitive to pressure waves, which enables it to detect the presence of approaching fish.  It will  remain motionless in the water until a fish comes close.  The mata mata then thrusts out its head and opens its large mouth as wide as possible, creating a low-pressure vacuum that sucks the prey into its mouth, known as suction feeding.  The mata mata snaps its mouth shut, the water is slowly expelled, and the fish is swallowed whole; the mata mata cannot chew due to the way its mouth is constructed. Unlike most reptiles (whose eggs are soft and leathery) the mata mata’s eggs have brittle shells and they are almost round. The incubation time is approximately 200 days.
Price $299.00
Availability Out-of-Stock

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